When is the right time to write a proposal?
This is been a big theme for me over the last 2 weeks so thought I would blog about it. We all know how much time it takes to write a proposal (indeed I have spent 1/2 day yesterday writing one!) yet many have a low conversion rates, so how do you increase that and give yourself the best chance of winning?
Many organisations will be flattered and excited to be asked to write a proposal and won’t do their due diligence – establish budgets and timescales as well as understanding exactly what the client really wants and to look internally to work out if you can deliver it (i.e. you have the skills/capacity and it’s a core service can confidently deliver). This is a time to enact one of my favourite business expressions: ‘slow down to speed up’. Take your time doing your research, going back to ask the client more questions, gather more background info etc. And if you decide it’s a good fit, then go for it. If not, then have the courage to walk away.
Anything that feels too challenging or gives you a feeling it’s going to be difficult to deliver – undoubtedly will be.
So when you have met with a prospect, had a good chat and a nice coffee, and neither party knows exactly how to wrap up the meeting so you suggest or agree to put your thoughts in a proposal, think again! Have you identified all the buying signs; do they have agreed timescales? A budget? Are they clear what they want? Or are they going to use you to shape (or write) the brief and set a budget for them? If so, beware!
Now you have decided its worthwhile writing the proposal – make it about them not you! I am amazed at the proposals I have read that start of by telling the prospect how wonderful the supplier is! This is all well and good but before you do that, you need to prove to the reader that you understand their business, market, products and challenges. Then you should outline how you will creatively solve their challenges. And only then, can you blow your own trumpet and tell them how great you are and what relevant experience you have.
There is so much more to this subject so if you want to find out more, download my whitepaper on pitching and proposal writing by completing the box below.